Walt Disney World has revealed changes to the Park Pass reservation system intended to enhance and streamline the booking process for all ticket tickets, with new rules now having taken effect. This post runs through details of the updates and shares commentary about their practical impact.
Walt Disney World has updated the user interface for making Disney Park Pass reservations across all ticket types. This means that everyone–theme park ticket holders, on-site resort guests, and Annual Passholders–will all use the same system and booking flow going forward. (As of August 24, Disney is still implementing and tweaking these changes.)
Currently, multi-day ticket holders and Walt Disney World APs each use a different system. This means that these Park Pass reservations have to be booked separately, and pull from different “buckets” of reservations. Going forward, guests may book reservations for all ticket and AP types in a single transaction.
In that single transaction, the upper limit of tickets that can have Disney Park Passes reserved in a single transaction has increased to 30, up significantly from the current number of 12. This probably won’t impact many of you, but it’ll definitely be useful for family reunions and other group bookings, like youth sports teams.
Note that if you’ve already made reservations, you won’t have your bookings cancelled. Existing Disney Park Passes have migrated to the new reservation system without any actions by the guest. (With that said, you might want to double-check your Park Passes to make sure this occurred.)
That’s just the start of the changes. Another big one comes to Disney Park Pass modifications, which were not previously a thing. In the past, you had to cancel and rebook, hoping that the availability you saw on the Park Pass calendar was actually there in the system.
Going forward, guests now have the modify option for their Disney Park Pass reservations. This new feature is available for some or all members of your party.
In practical terms, let’s say that Sarah and I made reservations for Magic Kingdom, which is now fully booked. She still wants to go to there, but I feel compelled to visit Hollywood Studios to see if Olaf is wearing a seasonal scarf and potentially cover that hard-hitting news. Now we’ll be able to modify the Disney Park Pass to reroute me to DHS without her losing the Magic Kingdom reservation.
(Important note: Olaf is not wearing a seasonal scarf. Stupid Halloween-hating snowman.)
As of August 24, this modify feature is still a work in progress with Walt Disney World continuing to tweak the feature to ensure proper functionality for everyone.
Right now, the main issue impacts Annual Passholders with resort reservations. Per the screenshot above, there are two different ways for this group to book Park Passes. The first one works correctly and offers the modify button. However, it counts against your AP allocation.
The second button also works, but does not offer the modify button (yet). This means that APs who book via this route will still have to cancel and rebook reservations. This route does not count against your AP allocation of reservations, so this is the preferred way to book.
Walt Disney World has already fixed this same issue for regular resort guests, so here’s hoping the same happens for Annual Passholders!
Additionally, the Disney Park Passes are tied to a specific ticket and not guest profiles in My Disney Experience.
This has a few implications. First, guests can have multiple admission types for whatever reason and choose the ticket to which they want to assign the park reservation. This is probably very niche, but this should theoretically eliminate some of the ‘ticket priority problems’ some people have experienced. (If you don’t know what this means, it almost certainly doesn’t impact you.)
Second, guests may change the email connected to the Disney Park Pass reservation. This means that guests can choose a different email than that of their My Disney Experience account.
I’m not entirely sure what upside this offers, but it sounds similar to how things work at Disneyland. The downside, at least from my perspective, is that Disneyland sends out an email for every single reservation. (I guess one upside might be that some people want this, and to have the reservation appear in their primary email–which may not be affiliated with MDX?)
Finally, disconnecting reservations from guest profiles and to tickets means that upgrading from standalone tickets to vacation packages results in “immediate cancellation” of all Disney Park Pass reservations made on the previously-booked ticket. New Park Pass reservations will be required, as the confirmation number changes with the upgrade process.
It’ll be interesting to see how or whether this actually happens. Personally, I hope it’s not actually automatic. If a modified confirmation number triggers an instant cancellation, I could see this occurring unintentionally. I don’t have any foundation for this fear–it’s not really a “fear,” that’s a slight exaggeration. Nevertheless, with how glitchy Disney’s systems can be, I’d prefer erring on the side of the system having excess ‘zombie’ reservations rather than purging active ones. Maybe there’s a good basis for this change, though.
With the changes and “enhancements” (some real, some deserving of the air quotes) out of the way, let’s turn to what is remaining the same.
First, the reservations are disconnected from My Disney Experience in more ways than one. You still will need to make Disney Park Passes via DisneyWorld.com. The button continues to exist in the app, but it’ll keep kicking you to the website to make bookings.
Second and most importantly, there will still be distinct buckets of reservations for Annual Passholders and everyone else.
At present, there are three buckets displayed on the Disney Park Pass calendar: Theme Park Tickets, Select Resort Guests, and Annual Passholders. Technically, the first two have already been combined internally and AP availability is further broken down by tier.
All of this will remain the same, meaning that reservation availability could be better or worse for regular ticket holders than APs. It’s the process that is being streamlined, not availability.
There’s been some speculation that this would/will change due to the Magic Key lawsuit. That could be true eventually, but it’s not happening now. (Personally, I highly doubt Disney will voluntarily do this–it undercuts what they’ve wanted to accomplish with AP reservations since even prior to the closure. If Disney has its way, reservations for Annual Passholders are here to stay.)
To my knowledge, that’s everything. Some specifics still aren’t entirely clear from the announcement and contradictory clarifying info (in particular, what happens when upgrading tickets to vacation packages), but we should know for certain how all of this will work once the dust settles on the changes.
Some of these changes are iterative improvements that enhance the Disney Park Pass system for some people. Others are relatively insignificant, or pose their own potential problems. It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out in practice. We’ll be watching and will let you know if/when issues arise!
What do you think of these changes and enhancements to the Disney Park Pass reservation policies and protocol at Walt Disney World? Happy or unhappy about any of these updates in particular? Think the biggest “upgrade” of all would be doing away with Park Pass entirely, or are you a fan of the certainty the system presents? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!